Gardaí act to tackle city retailers’ safety fears
By Sam Matthews
The Kilkenny Garda has stepped up its presence in the Kieran Street area of the city, in light of the serious concerns expressed by business owners over the area’s safety.
At last week’s public meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, retailers from Kieran Street and Rose Inn Street voiced their fears following a number of incidents of antisocial behaviour and violence. Shop owners described a ‘trouble-making’ element in the area during the early evenings.
Gardaí have since increased the frequency of patrols along the street at certain times of the day in an effort to address the problem. Local Sergeant John Hanlon said that they were also increasingly monitoring CCTV cameras, of which there are currently two on Kieran Street.
At the JPC meeting last week, local business owners had spoken of their fears and frustrations with the existing situation.
Brian Martin, a shop owner from Rose Inn Street, said the Garda response needed to be improved.
“I have been assaulted. I have rung the guards,” he said. “I have a real problem and I am not getting any help.”
Liz Walsh, who owns a bookshop on Kieran Street, said that she had taken to closing early on certain days, such was the extent of the menacing behaviour from the group. Her concerns echoed those of the other speakers, who were also worried about the consequences of the antisocial behaviour on visitors and tourists.
“I am passionate about my city, but I have been so horrified by what is going on,” she said.
One concerned Kieran Street resident, Frank Dalton, told the meeting that he had witnessed wanton acts of vandalism and open drug abuse. He said the situation was worsening.
“I have lived on Kieran Street since May of last year and the problems have increased significantly,” he said.
“It has escalated. We ring the guards and the people are moved on or they just slag the guards. And it’s the same four or five guys, hanging outside Dunnes Stores.”
Mayor David Fitzgerald asked that the Joint Policing Committee treat business owners’ concerns as a matter of priority.
Superintendent Mick Nevin said the situation would be addressed, and that relatively speaking, Kilkenny was not a dangerous place.
“There are no ‘no-go areas’ in Kilkenny,” he said. “As a city, this is a safe place to be.”